Authorities in Tennessee asked residents of Gatlinburg to evacuate the city immediately on Monday as 14 fire incidents broke out in and across the city. Some parts of the resort town Pigeon Forge were also ordered to be evacuated as strong winds strengthened the blaze and made it unpredictable.
The Gatlinburg Fire Department ordered mandatory evacuation of Mynatt Park, East Foothills Road, Turkey Nest Road, Davenport Road and Savage Gardens. The department asked everyone in the city and the nearby affected communities to leave the area.
Gatlinburg Fire Department chief Greg Miller said that they were battling raging fire amidst strong winds and the situation could get worse. "If you're a person of prayer, we could use your prayers," Miller told reporters.
According to a news release from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, at the point of the evacuation order, average wind speeds were recorded at 40 mph, with gusts measuring as high as 74 mph.
Gatlinburg Fire Department spokesperson Trish McGee said in a statement that school buses are available in Pigeon Forge for evacuation of civilians.
"Three county school buses are available for emergency transport and are being dispatched as needed to transport those who need to evacuate," McGee said.
Sevier County Emergency Management also issued evacuations alert from the city of Gatlinburg and surrounding communities
"The city of Gatlinburg and nearby communities are being evacuated due to wildfires. Nobody is allowed into the city at this time. If you are currently in Gatlinburg and are able to evacuate ... evacuate immediately and follow any instructions from emergency officials. Is you are not instructed to evacuate, please stay off the roads," the agency's alert said.
Reports state that no damage or injuries were reported in popular theme park Dollywood, owned by music star Dolly Parton. Firefighters are battling to keep the flames from Upper Middle Creek Ridge from harming the park.